Christian Schussele. "Franklin Before The Lords In Council, Whitehall Chapel, London 1774. This engraving from the Original Painting is respectfully Dedicated to the People of the United States by the Publisher".
Philadelphia: John M. Butler, 1860. 27 x 39 1/4 (image) plus margins. Steel engraving by Robert Whitechurch. Full hand color. Print backed with archival paper. Two repaired tears in bottom margin not affecting image. Four small areas of loss in bottom portion of image and into bottom margin expertly filled and inpainted. Else, very good condition.
In June of 1773, the House of Representatives in Massachusetts petitioned the crown for the removal from office of Governor Hutchinson. Benjamin Franklin, as an agent of that body, was assigned the task of presenting its demand in London. This was in response to letters written by Hutchinson, intercepted by Franklin and sent to Boston, in which Hutchinson stated that England must do something to prevent the state from separating from Britain. This print shows Franklin's appearance before the Privy Council at the Cockpit in Whitehall on January 29, 1774.
Franklin was in an embarrassing position for he was British deputy postmaster general in North America and also a spokesman for the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Every member of the Privy Council attended and spectators came in numbers. News of the Boston Tea Party arrived in London at this time and there was a lot of anti-American feeling. Attending were Lord North and General Gage. Franklin himself did not speak, but was represented by two lawyers who strongly urged the removal of Hutchinson. This was rejected and Franklin was ridiculed and deprived of his position as deputy postmaster general. Franklin stayed in London for another fourteen months to try to ease the strain between England and the colonies, but it was after this event that Franklin saw himself as an American and not as an Englishman.